Trivialization Through Language

About the Motives, Results und Prevalence of the Practice

Trivialization Through Language

African women
„Words, terms, and nametags that do not name the deed and the perpetrator and do not describe the actual problem, but rather harm the victim (again), that trivialize the deed and release the perpetrator.“
Psychologist and human rights activist Monika Gerstendörder 2007

This is how the psychologist and human rights activist Monika Gerstendörder clearly describes how language can hinder the abolishment of FGM. The use of euphemisms like "Female Genital Cutting" (FGC) or "Female Circumcision" harms the fight against this crime.

The important debate over the correct terminology goes back to a significant African campaign. The term Genital Mutilation was determined in 1990 by the Inter-African Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices (IAC), whose members represented initiatives in 29 African states as well as in Europe and Australia. African activists reject terms like "Female Circumcision" or "FGC."

Furthermore, the term "circumcision" is assigned to the circumcision of the foreskin (circumcision of the circumference) in boys and men. However, the comparison is problematic. Although the standard circumcision of boys for non-medical reasons is to be rejected. But it is not the aim to destroy the function of the penis. If a girl's visible part of the clitoris is cut off, this would be equivalent to removing the glans. If the large labia are also removed, this would be equivalent to cutting off the scrotum. The advocates of genital mutilation are not satisfied with merely cutting off the clitoral hood, which anatomically corresponds to circumcision. Girls are usually cut out the visible part of the clitoris to destroy their sexual sensation.

Support the Bamako Declaration!

SAIDA supports the Inter-African Committée's (IAC)'s striking appeal to the world public from its 2005 general assembly in Bamako; we should all use the term "female genital mutilation" and take a stand against trivializing expressions. In the declaration it says:
„We recognize that while it may be less threatening for non-Africans to adopt other less confrontational terminology in order to enter into dialogue with communities, it is imperative that the term FGM is retained.”
“The term FGM is not judgmental. It is instead a medical term that reflects what is done to the genitalia of girls and women. It is a cultural reality. Mutilation is the removal of healthy tissue. The fact that the term makes some people uneasy is no justification for its abandonment.”
“Indeed what gives anyone but Africans the right to change a term agreed upon by the largest group of African activists on this issue in the world? This is at best paternalism and is a sad reflection of how after many years of African women working against FGM, at the time when FGM was a taboo, the campaign has been high-jacked by others who were not involved at the beginning and do not appreciate the nature of the struggle.”
Read the Bamako Declaration (2005) herehere:

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